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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
DS (3), has multiple food intolerances. All symptoms are GI-related. We just did a stool test and found him to be off the charts for candida. The practioner we are working with suggested a hair analysis to rule out heavy metals before treating the candida. DS's results include extremely high levels of boron, titanium, arsenic and some lead. I was reading that the high levels of the first three can be indicative of high levels of mercury. I looked at Cutler's hair test rules in another thread (thanks, TanyaLopez!) and DS passed all 5 rules, which means mercury is likely not a culprit, yes?

It's been recommended that we do a urine to test to determine if the source of the metals is internal or external, which will inform our next move. I thought dealing with food allergies was tough, then the idea of a candida diet, but this is really leaving me feeling overwhelmed.

What do we need to know? Do we need to consider chelation even if mercury is not involved? Any words of wisdom or suggestions are much appreciated!
 

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Chelation is a term that can be used very broadly to mean deliberate mobilization of metals, so it's not mercury-specific, and although I typically mean using chemicals like DMSA and ALA (alpha lipoic acid), other people mean homeopathic approaches or things like cilantro (which really mobilizes mercury, so I'm avoiding it for now). If you have high levels of arsenic, I think they should be addressed in some manner. Alpha lipoic acid is great for that, it works equally well for mercury and arsenic so it's doing double-duty for me and the kids. But whatever method you choose (if you choose to do something about it, I mean), the point of chelation is to move metals, which implies that you think they're present in sufficient quantities to be causing health problems, which means moving them should be done carefully and with the respect they deserve.

How high was the lead? Lead's nasty and is problematic at lower levels than other stuff. If it's high enough for you to mention, I think it probably should be addressed. The conventional-alternative approach is to use DMSA for lead, apparently homeopaths use plumbum, I don't know anything about the homeopathy side of things though.

Do you know of a source for mercury? As far as I know, arsenic is excreted in much the same way as mercury, so most people with amalgam fillings who show up with really high arsenic will probably have accumulated mercury as well. I mean yes, there are significant sources of arsenic exposure that mean it could accumulate faster than the mercury from the amalgams, but I think in general they accumulate together. If you don't have an identified source of mercury, then I'd be less likely to think it's part of the issue. The counting rules aren't 100% accurate, I think they're best used in context of what's going on with a person. Though as a practical matter, if you go the ALA route, you'll get whatever mercury is there along with the arsenic.

Were any of the rules very close? Could you either post your results, or share the # to the left and right, # in the red, like that? And when you say urine test, what type are you contemplating? I'm pretty leery of provoked urine tests, but I hear the porphyrin test that's shipped off to France is pretty accurate. For me, it really helped that my health history fit together with things I saw with the kids, it all made sense that way. What's your health like, and how has it changed over time?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hello, TanyaLopez. Thank you so much for helping me with this. DS definitely has some issues that may be related to heavy metals, such as his very sensitive digestive system, some sensory issues (very minor, but I have to wonder if this is related?), and Vitamin D malabsorption. The more I learn, the more I am thinking that heavy metals could explain a lot of what's going on with him.

As for mercury exposure, I don't have any amalgam fillings. I have had a decent amount of vaccinations in my lifetime, however. I have a long history of digestive troubles and allergies; don't know how that might related to how my body excretes mercury? My digestive problems got a lot worse post-partum, and I've also had anxiety, depression and significant fatigue since DS was born.

DS had a Vitamin K shot at birth; no other vaxes. We don't eat seafood high in mercury. What else am I missing on the mercury front?

Here are the numbers for Cutler's hair test:

1. Count the number of elements that go to the right of the white 50% line (meaning the Percentile is 51% or higher). If this is 5 or less, mineral transport is deranged. 7

2. Count the number of elements that go to the left of the white 50% band (meaning the Percentile is 49% or lower). If this is 5 or less, mineral transport is deranged. This is the exact opposite of #1, and both are looking for lots of minerals higher or lower than most people. 10

3. Count the number of elements that go into the red zone on either side. If this is 4 or more, mineral transport is deranged. 1

4. Count the number of elements that have bars ending in the white or green zones (short bars, meaning the results are close to average). If this is 11 or less, mineral transport is deranged. 17

5. If any two of the above rules are missed by only one, mineral transport is deranged.

And here are his significant results for his hair test:
[Potentially Toxic Elements]
Lead is (in the green) 0.42 (< 1.0)
Arsenic is (in the red) 0.27 (< 0.080)
Mercury (in the green) 0.17 (< .40)
Titanium (in the red) 3.5 (< 1.0)
Uranium (in the yellow) 0.15 (< 0.060)
Silver, Tin barely in yellow
Everything else, green

[Essential and Other Elements]
Boron (in the red) 49 (0.70 - 5.0)
Copper (in the yellow) 10 (11-18)
Chromium (in the yellow) 0.42 (0.43 - 0.80)
Lithium (in the yellow) 0.042 (0.007 - 0.020)
Germanium (in the yellow) 0.028 (0.030 -0.040)
Rubidium (in the yellow) 0.27 (0.040 - 1.0)
Everything else, green or white

As for the urine test, I don't have any particular one in mind yet. The practitioner who ordered the hair test just mentioned that to me. Is the hair test enough to make a determination of what's going on?

Again, thank you so much for your help. This is like learning a new language!
 

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A few thoughts...

Boron of 49, that's really high. Do you use borax in your laundry, or other uses around the house? Contamination happens easily that way. My daughter's pegged all the way to the right side (high) at 13, and you're about 4x that. Apparently, though, it (boron) can be absorbed through broken skin, made me think more about Borax.

As a comparative data point, had to look at my daughter's hair test, her lead was 0.36, and I'm not planning to do anything specifically for that. High in the green or into the yellow can be a problem, but this low I'm not thinking it's part of my daughter's issues.

Arsenic--DD was 0.23 and I want the stuff out of her.

In terms of whether you need more testing, well, it sorta depends on the approach you want to take. I actually did no testing at all before we started this, the hair test was after we'd started and I was specifically looking for lead, I wanted to rule that out. Drugs like DMSA and ALA would get rid of most of the metals you've mentioned, titanium's probably not a problem (very low toxicity, Cutler doesn't even mention symptoms of toxicity). Those are, for now, the only two chelators I'm interested in for the kids. At some point, once I've made good progress on them, I may use some cilantro, and there's one product I've used that's a large tablet (not very kid-friendly) but I don't think I plan to use that for the kids. It's a very broad-spectrum mobilizer, and atm it's kicking my butt, so clearly not for the kids. I get mood issues from it.

In terms of routes of exposure for mercury, I'll go get Cutler's book and list out a bunch, see if anything jumps out. One thing that I am not sure how to evaluate, is this being passed down generation by generation. My kids, for example, clearly have lots, and no amalgams and no current sources. But I don't know if it's reasonable to think that, for example, maybe your mom had lots of amalgams, so although you never did, maybe your family excretes the stuff poorly, so you got a lot at birth, and now your kids from you. Is that realistic? I really don't know. Seems like, at a minimum, you'd have at least some sensory issues. Took me a while to realize that my extreme pickiness with food was due to new textures and tastes, and my intense shyness wasn't healthy in the physical sense. Sound sensitivity, low ability to deal with crowds and lots of activity, more than most introverted people I think.

But things getting worse after the birth of a child seem almost par for the course here, just the nutritional strain of pregnancy and nursing, well, it's enough to push many over the edge, including me. I know metals can be involved in mood disorders, and I've seen my mood do weird things when I've moved too many metals too fast, but a lot of people can have mood issues without metals as well.

Anyway, he starts by saying sometimes the source is never identified because mercury's been used so extensively in our environment.
-amalgams
-childhood vaccines (I'm not sure this is enough all by itself, I mean yeah, the amount in the late 80s and early 90s was really excessive, but enough all by itself? not sure)
-allergy shots
-mercurochrome and merthiolate (topical antiseptics), also used in eye care products and various hospital/lab purposes including hand cleaners in med settings, also some ear and nose drops
-sometimes used in paints to prevent mold growth
-embalming and taxidermy applications
-used in gold mining, environmental contamination still exists near former mines
-fish
-current and former dental offices (esp those with carpet and people who cleaned said offices), hard to know about former office tenants
-engine repair shops (from pressure gauge manifolds)
-used to make neon signs
-high school and college lab spaces, esp older ones, and old med labs and older hospitals, due to likelihood of old spills improperly cleaned up
-oddball high, unknowable exposures

A little later this evening, i can type up the symptoms of arsenic toxicity, and routes of exposure for arsenic, see if anything jumps out at you. Maybe that's the big issue, and the other stuff is just being affected by that (by detoxification being full-up with dealing with arsenic, I mean).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah, I have no idea where the boron is coming from... that is really weird. We don't use Borax. I need to think about that some more.

Good to know I don't necessarily need to freak out on the lead and titanium at this stage. I would love the info on arsenic, when you have the chance.

Interesting about the generational transmission of mercury. My mother does have amalgam fillings (I don't know how many, but I'm remembering she has at least a few), and I do have some sensory issues as well as chemical sensitivities.

I really appreciate your time and wisdom!
 

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arsenic, just the short version..

carcinogenic, getting it out is very good, can cause vision problems in kids, go to a behavioral optometrist (www.covd.org, www.oep.org, www.nora.cc, www.optometrist.org and search for vision therapy for the last one),

arsenic toxicity symptoms...
hair tests usually accurate for body burden, causes nonspecific issues: headaches, fatigue, restlessness, insomnia, drowsiness, vertigo, dizziness, listelessness, malaise, abdominal pain, various aches & pains, cognitive decline

exposure source may never be determined in up to 50% of cases (Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, Haddad, Shannon and Winchester 1998)

symptoms--numbness, tingling, pins & needles or pain in feet and sometimes hands, also often involves lower legs, sometimes weakness to the degree of being unable to stand, maybe numbness of the lips, peripheral neuropathy (which can have multiple causes, but arsenic's fairly easy to treat), often causes diarrhea, headaches and skin problems, white transverse lines across fingernails (Mees' lines), hair loss, general weakness, confusion. sometimes nausea, vomiting, irritability. tendon reflexes are often dimished or lost (the hammer-knee-reflex test). causes racing heart & palpitations, heart may be dilated with accumulation of pericardial fluid, often QT interval prolongation. hardening of arteries. difficulty eating too many carbs (messes with conversion into energy), blood sugar elevations, difficulty clearing lactic acid after exercise, may feel better on atkins-like diet, though folks with adrenal issues usually need at least some carbs. light complexion, often with rashes where clothing rubs. can cause impulsivity, emotional volatility, poor judgement, people feel anguished and have generalized fear, often of death or being alone. people are frightened, worried, selfish, maybe self-injurious or suicidal, people often sleep with hands above the head, beyond the pillow. can cause short menstrual cycles. people like burning hot liquids and crave sour or tart drinks and coffee as well as milk.

as for sources....
-treated wood (greenish-colored), comes out of wood easily into soil (say, near gardens), transferred onto hands easily, or playing on treated decking
-newer wood may be copper instead of arsenic, they look the same
-current/former agricultural land because it's in an old common pesticide
-some ant traps, and the ants contaminate other surfaces
-feed additives for poultry and pork, concentrates esp in the liver, organic animal products don't contain this stuff
-some pottery glazes
-studies have shown that a major source of arsenic in infants is cereal (grain) in the diet

With all the digestive stuff listed, it seems like arsenic can cause gut issues as well, aside from mercury (where most of my reading has been).

Ooh, boron... most it's from boron in laundry products, flame retardant chemicals and boric acid used for medicinal purposes. hard to know if it's external contamination or it's been absorbed into the skin (esp broken skin).

symptoms--poor appetite and weight loss, poor digestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, clumsiness, tremors, convulsions and an itchy red rash that is firm to the touch.
 

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Oh yeah, I didn't make the connection until now - I was a dental assistant as a part time job in high school, and not a very good one at that.

Thanks for all the info Tanya.
 

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After reading all the information Tanya posted I really think I might need to get my oldest DD tested and myself too. What test or tests do you recommend the most for heavy metals? How expensive are they?

Yikes on all the syptoms of arsenic.
 

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I like the Andy Cutler approach of using the Hair Elements test from Doctor's Data (not the Toxic Hair Exposure Profile). You can order by yourself (w/o a HCP) by going to Direct Lab Services and search for Hair Elements, and if you call to order and mention the autism-mercury yahoo group (I think Cutler helped start it, and lots of folks there and at the frequent-dose-chelation yahoo group use hair tests to figure out what's going on) you'll get a bit of a discount. The test is around $90, I don't remember exactly. You can join either or both of those yahoo groups to read more, see how it's being used, like that. They can also help with interpretation of test results.

Other testing methods (urine porphyrins, but you need to be really careful about what lab you choose, there's a well-regarded one in France, apparently) can also be helpful, but a lot of HCPs like provoked urine samples, where they give a chelator and see what metals come out. As a person who's taken chelating drugs, I think it should be done really carefully, because when stuff gets stirred up but _not_ excreted (and no drug is perfect, metals will get mobilized and then at least some won't be excreted) well, it doesn't feel good, and it's not healthy. JMO, but part of the reason I think hair testing gives helpful information with almost no risk (impalement on the scissors is technically possible, but let's hope to avoid it).

We have discussion in the Chelating Mamas thread about test interpretation--most toxic metals are fairly straightforward, but mercury is not, so for example my daughter and my parents have very low hair mercury, but the regular minerals are all messed up.

http://mothering.com/discussions/sho...435848&page=30
This page discusses it more, 2nd post down I think.

In that discussion, you'll see that nursing moms sometimes fail the first counting rule (ways of counting regular minerals to see if mercury is affecting the body's ability to move minerals) _without_ being mercury toxic. Something for nursing moms to consider. I think really high toxic metals are real whether nursing or not, but for some things (like how regular minerals shift in lactating vs non-lactating women) there's not as much information as we need (in Cutler's books, I mean, and I don't know where else to learn this stuff).

FWIW, I've only tested my oldest child, she was sort of a proxy for all of us. I knew, however, that my amalgams were affecting the three of us, I was just looking for lead or other unexpected things.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for posting all of this information, Tanya. I have to say that a vast majority of the symptoms for both arsenic and boron do not fit... but that both can include digestive symptoms has definitely gotten my attention as that is such a big issue with DS. I'm still stumped about potential sources of both boron and arsenic, however. Perhaps our soil or water contains it? The other thought is that DS eats a lot of rice products due to his food sensitivities. As for boron, the one possibility is DS's mattress, since boron is found in fire retardants.

So, I'm not sure if it's worthwhile for us to do a urine test. The idea of a provoked test concerns me. Due to DS's already very sensitive system, I am concerned about chelation in general. It is hard enough for him to get the nutrients he needs through food because of his limited diet (and we have not yet found any vitamins or other supplements that he can tolerate). I'm also leary of potentially mobilizing metals in DS's system. I just don't know yet what would be the gentlest approach for him. I clearly have a lot more research to do.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by mkat View Post
Thanks for posting all of this information, Tanya. I have to say that a vast majority of the symptoms for both arsenic and boron do not fit... but that both can include digestive symptoms has definitely gotten my attention as that is such a big issue with DS.

There's individual variation in this, and I'll give us as an example. My daughter (she failed 2 of Cutler's counting rules, and I think it's likely she got a higher toxic load from me than my son) has no stimming-type behaviors at all, no spinning, shaking, head-banging, nothing. But her digestion isn't great--not terribly bad, not as affected as many on this board who do not have metal issues, but it's somewhat touchy. And she's got very non-specific irritability, no real name, phrases like "high-needs" though only sometimes, or "spirited" may fit, but vague. But it went away pretty abruptly in April of last year when I fiddled with her supplements, so it was directly health-related.

DS and I, for some bizarre reason, have pretty good digestion, even though digestive problems are classic for mercury--other causes too, obviously, but very very common for mercury. But we tend toward sensory-type issues.

For us, a big part of understanding things has been seeing how each of the kids take after mostly one parent (DH and DD, DS and me) and how that's affecting how this manifests. And it's easier because DH and I have completely different family health histories and personal tendencies, almost polar opposites. But maybe you can put together some pieces and try to make it make more sense, because it's so much easier to deal with when it feels like there's some logic to everything.

I'm still stumped about potential sources of both boron and arsenic, however. Perhaps our soil or water contains it? The other thought is that DS eats a lot of rice products due to his food sensitivities. As for boron, the one possibility is DS's mattress, since boron is found in fire retardants.

For us, the arsenic was incidental environmental stuff, I can't think of specific places I ran into it (it was all from me, basically, accumulated over the course of my lifetime, plus whatever I was born with from my mom). But it did take mercury messing with my ability to detox to allow the arsenic to accumulate. And I guess more importantly, a lot of people don't ever find out the source(s), which would be really hard to accept.

As for the boron, if none of the symptoms fit, I'd wonder about your sheets/pillowcases, or maybe a carseat cover? Not sure what chemicals are in carseat covers, but I remember being surprised and dismayed when I read a bit about them. In which case, esp if it's the carseat, then it would be external contamination (I don't remember if the washing is supposed to get rid of external contamination, though, I think labs do wash before testing).

So, I'm not sure if it's worthwhile for us to do a urine test. The idea of a provoked test concerns me. Due to DS's already very sensitive system, I am concerned about chelation in general. It is hard enough for him to get the nutrients he needs through food because of his limited diet (and we have not yet found any vitamins or other supplements that he can tolerate). I'm also leary of potentially mobilizing metals in DS's system. I just don't know yet what would be the gentlest approach for him. I clearly have a lot more research to do.
I agree that for someone with a really stressed gut already, a provoked urine test could cause problems. But I'm not keen on them anyway, so no surprise there.

Weighing everything is very stressful on the parent(s), I was mostly responsible for the decision-making for us, and it was a rough few months when I was deciding what to do with the kids. You can make the argument that you need to get more nutrients in and better digestion going before you are stable enough to chelate, but the counter-argument is that the gut is messed up _because_ of the metals, so you get them out, and then healing can start. And that's before you decide on an approach and probably try to find a really knowledgeable healthcare provider. Take your time reading and thinking, and try to relax as much as possible. It's a hard thing to contemplate.

In terms of supps, we use a mix of Thorne and Perque, some folks like BrainChild products as well, I don't have experience with them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for sharing about your kids, esp. your DD. What I have written off as little "quirks" in DS (and myself) take on a whole new meaning when considered in the context of heavy metal toxicity. I guess these things can be subtle, and still be significant.
I wonder how much of the arsenic is from me. Interesting idea about boron on some surface like sheets or the car seat cover. I am going to investigate that.
I will check out the supplement brands you mentioned. I'm excited to see that Perque multivitamin is corn-free. That is a rarity!
And, thank you for putting into words a lot of the emotions and reactions I've been having so far. I am totally overwhelmed with this in large part because I am the sole researcher, and DH is skeptical. I am also stuck in terms of what to address first.... the heavy metals or gut issues. And I've got to take DS's already sensitive system into account. Thank you for reminding me to take my time while I figure all of this out. You have been so generous with your time, and I really appreciate everything you've shared with me.
 
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